Fo-Ti is a popular herb in Chinese medicine prized for its supposed reputation as a longevity and health boosting plant. It has also gained notoriety over the years as having the enjoyable side effect of helping those with thinning, graying or otherwise unhealthy hair.
It is affordable supplement as it is a fairly abundant plant. Aside from any hair care benefits, it has many other touted health benefits. However along with that, it also has some reported side effects that are worth heeding, which we will get into later.
Can Fo-Ti Boost Your Hair’s Health?
Many regular users of the herb report multiple hair-improving benefits. These include faster hair growth, healthier and stronger hair, and even a darkening of gray hair. The reversal of gray hair is one of the most sought after elements of this herbal supplement. While the stories are pretty plentiful about how Fo-Ti has returned pigment to the hair, there is no scientific proof that it works for this, only a lot of conjecture and relayed experiences.
Fo-Ti (also known as He Shou Wu, which incidentally means “black haired Mr. He when translated) is also used for hair loss. Those with balding or thinning hair have reported success with the use of the herb. Many have also reported their hair being thicker, glossier, and generally more resilient to damage. It is also used as a means to help the hair grow longer, faster.
In addition to the benefits it can have for the hair, it also has a reputation for being a general all-around anti-aging supplement It is legendary in Chinese herbal medicine for helping maintain vitality and youthful vigor, both in appearance and overall health and energy levels.
Fo-Ti’s Phytochemical Properties
Fo-Ti is rich in alkaloids. Plant alkaloids are nitrogen rich organic compounds that can have many health enhancing effects. The alkaloids in Fo-Ti are said to have reinvigorating effects on the glands, nerve pathways and brain cells.
This may explain why it is said to have an energizing, invigorating and anti-aging effect on humans. As to why this particular property might also enhance hair growth or help turn gray hair dark again is anyone’s guess.
Traditional Chinese medicine asserts the reason for Fo-Ti’s hair health benefits is its positive effects on the blood. Healthy blood plentiful in red blood cells is said to be a key to healthy, youthful hair.
For all of its reported benefits, one may want to approach this herb with caution. Fo-Ti is highly phytoestrogenic. This means it can mimic the effects of the female hormone estrogen in the body.
These means men may want to use caution when using the herb. Also, women who are breast feeding, pregnant, or who have any sort of estrogen-fueled cancer are advised to avoid any supplement that is high in phytoestrogens as a precaution.
There have also been reports of adverse effects on the liver when taking the herb over long periods of time or in higher dosages. Reports of jaundice and abnormal liver function have been made, although rare.